I have had lots of pets in my lifetime, and it is always hard when they die. Coalie had a special place in my heart, though - I had never met a cat like him. He was a very loving little creature, and he had a soft spot for me. Virtually every time I sat down, anywhere, he would come scampering across the room to sit in my lap, purring madly. Every night as I settled into bed to read, he would leap up on the bed and settle in next to me (or, if he had his preference, smack dab on the middle of my chest between my face and my book). I always sleep on my side, and each night he'd plop down, perched on my arm, and purr like crazy until he fell asleep.
It's jarring - losing him so unexpectedly. Everywhere I look I think I see him, and it is crushing to realize that isn't him curled on the chair, but only Finn's sweatshirt. Climbing into bed last night it seemed surreal that he was gone - I kept expecting to hear the little thump of his paws running up the stairs.
Greta and Finn are sad, of course, but kids have a very pure way of processing death. Finn understands that Coalie is gone and he isn't coming back, but he hasn't cried about him. He's talking about him a lot, though. Greta and I cried together for a while yesterday afternoon, remembering all the things we loved about him. As her tears dried, she looked up and said "You know what, Mom? Maybe there was a little girl in Heaven who needed a kitty. Now she has Coalie."
We had a little burial out in the woods, said a few prayers for him, and put down a little headstone. As we solemnly walked back to the house, I was thinking about the innocence of animals. How all they really want from you is love. Coalie's affection could drag me out of the worst mood. I'd be sitting in a funk feeling sorry for myself, and he'd crawl into my lap, purring and nudging me for attention. Petting him brought me a measure of peace, and reduced my anxiety.
Seeing Greta sad over the loss of Coalie gave me twinges of guilt. Steve and I knew this might happen, we did the best we could to keep him safe, but we live off a busy road and we always understood this was a danger we faced. The kids became so attached to him, only to have him wrenched away too soon. Was that fair to do to them? Should we have avoided getting a cat because of this danger? The fact is, though, that he brought a lot of love into this house. And it was worth it. I don't want to miss out on that kind of love, just out of a fear of loss.
We kept his food down in the basement, and so the dog wouldn't get it we cut a little circle opening in the base of the door, just big enough for Coalie to fit through. We called it the "Coalie Holey". Now I have a Coalie Holey in my heart, but I am so grateful to have known this loving little spirit. We're hugging each other a little tighter today.